This weekend, Ben Stiller bites off more than he can chew. In his latest film, he plays the head of a neighborhood watch that stumbles across an extraterrestrial invasion. Stiller reunites with Vince Vaughn (Dodgeball) and Jonah Hill (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) alongside newcomer Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) for Akiva Schaffer’s The Watch. Check out our interview as Stiller talks about his character and how channeling Tom Cruise helped his performance.
Your character doesn’t have a huge arc in this movie. Is it nice to lock onto a persona and stick with it?
Ben Stiller: In terms of the structure, I think these characters were who they were, and I don’t think it was about having it all sort of tied up in bow. It was more about, again, these guys hanging out and how they affected each other, but it wasn’t like about teaching lessons or anything.
What about their relationship with each other?
Ben Stiller: I do think there is sort of, you know, an emotional connection these guys do have by [ending up] being together and do show up for each other again… I think it’s actually a good thing because I feel like it’s there underneath the surface, but it’s not kind of too sappy in that way or anything.
Your character has an intense, Tom Cruise-style of running. Was that something you were aiming for while making this movie?
Ben Stiller: I think Tom Cruise’s running has [had] a huge impact on the world. I mean let’s face it. Culturally. Everybody wants to run like Tom Cruise. I think Evan is probably a Tom Cruise fan, and when he sees his moment to run after the alien, he goes into his full Cruise-mode.
This is the third or fourth time you’ve acted opposite Vince Vaughn. How did your established rapport make working on The Watch easier?
Ben Stiller: I love working with these guys. It’s great to work with people who make you laugh and who are funnier. Vince and I had a really fun time working on Dodgeball together and it was exciting to have a chance to do something. It had been a while for us, so it was exciting to have a chance to do something new together and being in a totally different kind of relationship, too. I’m just a fan of these guys and Richard…I met a little bit because we had been able to be executive producers of Submarine.
The aliens in this film seem more practical and less CGI. Was that done purposefully?
Ben Stiller: We did end up using CG for some of it and at some point it’s actually a hybrid of a guy in a suit and a little bit of CG.
Is it nice to make people laugh, while also fighting off aliens?
Ben Stiller: I feel like first and foremost the movie is a comedy, so the action in the movie has to — it should be believable. You should believe the aliens, but just enough that you can have the fun of the movie. I feel like when people come to a movie like this, they want to laugh and they are not necessarily looking for us to be these sorts of kick ass, bad ass hero guys. They want to feel like it makes sense for the movie, and the comedy of it. I feel like just sort of finding that tone that makes it feel real enough to, these real guys in that situation. And especially to the last part of the movie, we were trying to find as much humor within all this action moments. I feel like it’s still a part of the same movie.
The Watch opens in theaters July 27.